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My Memories of the Apple Tree

The city patiently waits for the apples to ripen.

Lots of apples -- green apples -- filled my neighbor’s tree, which arched over the fence line. After windy days, there were always a few that blew off and rolled down the hill into our driveway.

This was my first memory of where apples come from.

As a young child, I bit into one and was surprised it did not taste sweet like the ones my mother always had in the fruit bowl for snacks. I grew to learn that if I was patient and waited a month or two, my neighbor’s apples would taste delicious.

Until I was introduced to more exotic fruits, apples were my favorite.

Over the years, I have discovered there are thousands of varieties of apples. When ripened, they are colored green, yellow, orange and red, with the whole spectrum of colors sometimes all on one apple. With the color variations come the deliciously different flavors and textures. Some make great cider, others are best in pies and desserts, but my favorites are the ones fresh from the trees and at the local farmers market.

It was no surprise to discover more than half of the American crop of apples are used as fresh fruit. The rest of the apples are processed into juice and vinegar or canned as jelly, apple butter and applesauce. In other countries, more apples are processed into cider, brandy, and wine.

Last summer when visiting a new friend in Burlingame, I was offered an apple. It was crisp, fresh and full of flavor. I asked what kind it was and was told it was from the backyard apple tree.

On another visit this spring the tree was full of blossoms, white and fluffy, and there in the blossoms was a pair of butterflies. Quietly sunning themselves, they moved slowly around the blossoms and onto curled up leaves. 

I found them to be Lorquin's Admirals, perhaps just emerged from the cocoon, attached to the apple tree by caterpillars who feasted there.

I returned in June and noticed the little apples were getting sun-kissed and reddening, but still too tart and dry for my taste. Next month, they will be perfect!

Do you have an apple tree in your yard? If so, you are contributing to the world crop of apples that averages about 70 billion 550 million pounds a year!

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